Beyond SDI: Integrating Science and Communities to Create Environmental Policies for the Sustainability of the Amazon

Clodoveu A Davis, Frederico T. T. Fonseca, Gilberto Câmara


This paper will explore ways to go beyond the traditional SDI (spatial data infrastructures) in the direction of the Digital Earth, with the objective of supporting environmental policies that will lead to sustainability. We use the Amazon region as a starting point for the discussion. Environmental policy making for a place such as the Amazon has to take into account that phenomena occur and are modeled in various geographic scales, ranging from microbiology to planetary climate impacts. There are also multiple and sometimes conflicting views on the same reality, including the many scientific disciplines, governmental and non-governmental views, and the view of the local populations. Currently, the combination of technologies, people, and policies that defines an SDI is probably the best approximation we have to solve these problems, but some important elements are missing. A broader SDI would be an enabler for understanding space, not only delivering general-purpose maps, but disseminating spatial data to support policies for sustainable development. We think it is necessary to go beyond SDI to integrate science and communities in the effort of creating, enforcing, assessing, and revising environmental policies. We discuss the limitations of current SDIs with regards to data and information flow, semantics, and community building. We also review the information needs and modeling challenges for SDIs when used as a support for environmental policy making.


SDI, environmental policy making, Digital Earth, Amazon, Sustainability

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